CDC warns about rise in serious pneumococcal disease. CDC said today that is is seeing a spike in serious pneumococcal disease, particularly in younger patients.  Anne Schuchat, MD, DIrector of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters that the CDC is seeing an increasing number of invasive pneumococcal disease cases around the country, but the numbers were particularly high in Denver at a time when pandemic H1N1 activity was peaking in the area. 

Health officials expect to see more pneumococcal disease when seasonal flu circulates, but the infections typically strike people who are older than 65.  In past pandemics secondary bacterial pneumonia infections particularly those involving Streptococcus pneumoniae, frequently contributed to illness and death.

This rise in pneumococcal disease is a stark reminder for high-risk groups to get the pneumococcal vaccine.  According to the CDC only about 25% of adults in high-risk groups who are younger than age 65 have received the vaccine.  CDC recently added people with asthma and smokers to the list of those who should receive the pneumococcal vaccine.